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PLBC honors scholarship award winners with ceremony

Wolf signs Farm Bill package with Burgos legislation to improve childhood nutrition initiatives

(Jul 01, 2019)

HARRISBURG, July 1 – State Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Phila., today announced Gov. Tom Wolf signed the PA Farm Bill package into law, including his legislation that will increase childhood education and exposure to nutritious foods and Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry. Burgos said the legislation will expand grants to support children in pre-k through fifth grade. The previous program only provided money to children in kindergarten. These grants will aid in increasing nutrition and agriculture education, including the integration of both topics into regular school subjects. “These grants will be awarded to areas where there is a high percentage of children who receive free or reduced-price meals at schools. Many of the young people in Philadelphia fall under that guideline and have limited to no exposure to healthy or nutritious foods. That is a big problem,” Burgos said. “By exposing children to foods that are beneficial to good health, it hopefully will provide a foundation for them to make nutritious choices for the rest of their lives. “I would like to thank Representative Johnathan Hershey for his bipartisan work on this legislation and to Governor Wolf for signing it into law.” Burgos added these grants will support training for teachers and other educational staff on nutrition and agriculture education; field trips to Pennsylvania farms and other agricultural educational experiences; and will allow inclusion of parents, Read more


Kenyatta working to keep Hahnemann open

(Jun 26, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 26 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today expressed his dismay with the announcement that Hahnemann University Hospital plans to close its doors . “As a former program coordinator at Hahnemann University Hospital, this is personal for me,” Kenyatta said. “I know a great number of people who work at Hahnemann, who will be among the roughly 3,000 people to lose their job if the hospital closes. “This historic hospital serves a low-income patient population, and is a teaching hospital, training doctors and nurses. Its closure would put more stress on other Philadelphia-area hospitals that are already experiencing emergency room wait times that are far and above the state and national averages. To close it would be devastating to residents who rely on it for accessible health care, to Drexel University and to our economy alike.” The day Hahnemann officials announced it would close, Kenyatta and other members of the Philadelphia delegation wrote to Gov. Tom Wolf, asking that he use every available power to keep Hahnemann open. The letter is available here . Kenyatta said he would continue to work with fellow lawmakers, the governor, the city and Hahnemann officials to find a way to keep the hospital open and serving the city. Read more


Dawkins, Street call for life-without-parole reform in Pa.

(Jun 26, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 26 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins and Sen. Sharif Street, both D-Phila., were joined by their colleagues to push for criminal justice reform by giving some people who are serving life without parole a second chance. “We are locking away so many positive role models that could diffuse a lot of the crime that we are seeing throughout this nation and throughout this world,” Dawkins said. “There are some powerful stories being told of experience. These lessons are the one thing young people are missing. If they have the chance to hear the experience of the folks who spent 25, 35 or even 45 years behind bars, they may make different decisions about their lives.” House Bill 135, sponsored by Dawkins, would provide a chance for people to get parole after serving 25 or 35 years of a life sentence, regardless of their crime. They would go before the Board of Probation and Parole and would be released on parole if they deserve it and do not present a safety risk to the public. Dawkins added people convicted of murdering a law enforcement officer would not be eligible. The legislation also would create an Office of Reentry program to assist those who are released under the new eligibility standards. Street, who has a companion bill ( S.B. 942 ) in the state Senate, said their legislation highlights the growing need to reform parole for lifers in the commonwealth. “The economic and moral imperatives of this reform are clear. Read more


Fitzgerald: Budget forgets middle class, most vulnerable citizens

(Jun 25, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., issued the following statement regarding House passage of the state budget bill: “I voted no on House Bill 790 because it doesn’t put all people first. For years, we have seen states that surround Pennsylvania increase the minimum wage – some at least twice -- since the last time it was increased here. It hasn’t changed in more than a decade, yet people continue to struggle to make ends meet. “The people of Philadelphia deserve a living wage. The city has a poverty rate of 26%. If a person is making $7.25 an hour, which is a shame in the first place, their annual income is only $14,616 a year, and that’s before taxes! Our citizens should not work hard for 40 hours or more every week and still live below the poverty line. Pennsylvania is long-overdue to raise the minimum wage, yet this budget ignores that. “This budget bill also forgets our most vulnerable citizens by eliminating the General Assistance fund. This money would have helped those Pennsylvanians who just need a little bit of help. It could have been for things that many of us take for granted: buying toiletries, diapers for babies, getting the bus to go to a doctor’s appointment. “The $200 a month provided by the General Assistance fund would help victims of domestic abuse, residents with disabilities, our veterans, and people who are struggling with opioid addiction. It’s a Read more


Cephas welcomes first ‘Night Market’ to her district

(Jun 21, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, June 21 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., welcomed The Food Trust’s Night Market Philadelphia for the first time to the Overbrook section of her district on Thursday. The event took place along Lancaster Avenue, between 61st and 63rd streets – lined with food trucks, vendors and live entertainment. “As a community partner of this event, I was excited to work with Overbrook West Neighborhoods to bring the Night Market Philadelphia to the 192nd Legislative District,” Cephas said. “It was a great opportunity for people to come together and enjoy plenty of food and entertainment. Night Market Overbrook also provided us with an opportunity to encourage civic engagement while promoting community and economic development. I look forward to the opportunity to welcome Night Market Philadelphia to the district in the future.” Cephas added Night Market Overbrook was made possible by several sponsors including first timers Mann Music Center, Please Touch Museum, Overbrook School for the Blind, The Friends of the Dell Music Center, West Philadelphia Financial Services Institute, Keystone First and Saint Joseph’s University, in addition to Green Mountain Energy, Xfinity, Penn Beer, Lankenau Medical Center, Together for West Philadelphia and Bath Fitter/Kitchen Saver. Entertainment included West Philadelphia’s own Joie Kathos, who headlined the event. The Food Trust’s Night Market event takes place in Read more


PLBC honors scholarship award winners with ceremony

(Jun 21, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 20 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said the PLBC recognized seven Pennsylvania students as scholarship recipients at the PLBC scholarship award reception at the Capitol today. The recipients will receive a $1,000 scholarship to their chosen accredited four-year college or university. "The PLBC Scholarship Program lets us reward hardworking students by helping to offset some of the costs of higher education," Kinsey said. "I am honored that we can continue to reward dedicated students of color in Pennsylvania.” The 2019 scholarship recipients are: Name of Student College/University Legislator Sponsors Ariana Cruz Ohio State University Rep. Kim Domenique Ross Howard University Rep. Wheatley Jae Fitch York College Rep. Hill-Evans Nahla Turner Howard University Rep. Kinsey/Sen. Haywood Jayla Hayden North Carolina A&T State University Rep. Cephas/Sen. Hughes Alphonso Samukai Cheyney University Rep. McClinton/Sen. Williams Tai Humphery Florida A&M University Rep. Fitzgerald/Sen. Read more


Harris releases statement on Philadelphia Energy Solution Explosion

(Jun 21, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., House Democratic Whip, released the following statement in response to this morning’s explosion at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery: “First and foremost, I’m relieved to hear that as of this point, officials believe there are no injuries in the explosion that ripped through the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery on Passyunk Avenue early today. The safety of the employees, first responders and citizens that live in South and Southwest Philadelphia is of the utmost importance. “Though this incident occurred outside my district, the flames and smoke were clearly visible from our community and my constituents have a right to be concerned about their safety and well-being. Over 150,000 people live in South and Southwest Philadelphia and we deserve the peace of mind of knowing that our homes and lives are not in danger. “Government at all levels, local, state and federal, has a job to do to ensure that the proper safety standards are met and our industrial complexes, which provide thousands of jobs to local residents, are operating in a safe and efficient manner. Though this directly impacts South Philadelphia, the entire city and region breathes the same air and drinks the same water. Incidents like this must be taken seriously to ensure public safety, and I’m extremely concerned that this is the second explosion within two weeks at the same facility. Read more


Kinsey Applauds All Who Helped Pass Juneteenth Day Legislation

(Jun 20, 2019)

PA Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Stephen Kinsey thanks Rep. Sue Helm and Governor Tom Wolf for making PA the second state to sign legislation making Juneteenth an annual holiday. He also recognized the Mills family, and all of the individuals/organizations who never gave up. Read more


Legislators call for action following weekend of gun violence in Philadelphia

(Jun 17, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 17 – The Philadelphia Delegation of the General Assembly released the following the statement following a weekend in which 28 victims were involved in 19 shootings leaving five dead in the city: “Father’s Day weekend, in which 28 Philadelphians were shot, opened a wound of gun violence that we can’t let fester. Our constituents and our city deserve a safe environment, and it’s imperative that we have all hands-on deck from various levels of government to deal with this issue. “With that in mind, we’re asking Governor Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Mayor Jim Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner to work together in a coordinated way to reduce the scourge of gun violence in our city. We’re also asking Mayor Kenney to issue an executive order to formulate an emergency response in Philadelphia to facilitate these coordinated efforts. There is no more time for thoughts and prayers. We need action before we unnecessarily lose more life in our city. “This weekend can’t set the tone for what this summer will be like in Philadelphia. More and more, these incidents are impacting our teenagers and young adults, and until we have concrete steps to take to address this public health epidemic the number of victims will only continue to rise. We look forward to working together with all parties to find a resolution to this epidemic that works for the city now, not later.” Read more


Reps. Jordan Harris & Sheryl Delozier talk criminal justice reform

(Jun 17, 2019)

Pennsylvania lawmakers discuss Meek Mill, Jay Z, and Michael Rubin's involvement in the bipartisan effort to reform probation & parole policies Read more


2019 PLBC Scholarship Winners

(Jun 14, 2019)

2019 PLBC Scholarship Winners Read more


Kenyatta seeks passage of 'Phillip’s Law'

(Jun 12, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today announced the formal introduction of bipartisan legislation aimed at ensuring adequate mental health resources for students in public schools. Known as “Phillip’s Law,” the bill ( H.B. 1622 ) would require the Department of Education to investigate the number of school mental health professionals available to students, as well as make recommendations on how to increase their numbers to meet nationally accepted levels. It was introduced by Kenyatta and state Reps. Wendi Thomas, R-Bucks, and Joanna McClinton, D-Phila. Kenyatta suggested the legislation following the death of an 11-year-old student from his district, Phillip, who committed suicide after school. The child’s family said he urgently tried to get the attention of support staff but was unable to connect. “When an 11-year-old takes his life, everyone must take stock of how and why children can get that far in their despair,” Kenyatta said. “The tragedy of Phillip’s passing sheds light on the fact that school mental health professionals are not always available or equipped to identify and intervene when a child is suffering. In fact, there is no mandate for schools to retain mental health staff, and there certainly is not enough funding provided for it. But there should be.” Kenyatta recently created an action item on his website, www.pahouse.com/Kenyatta , to give Pennsylvanians Read more


Hill-Evans amends Charter School bill

(Jun 12, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, today announced that her amendment to H.B. 357 has been adopted in the House chamber. “Certain charter schools have complicated our public school funding formula for years, and the funding that goes to public schools should not be going to these charters if they have plans to disband or terminate their charter,” Hill-Evans said. “I’m happy that my colleagues have agreed to my amendment that would make it illegal to allow more students to enroll at a charter school if they plan to eliminate their charter. Our tax dollars and our students should not be sent to a charter school if it is going to be shut down within less than a year.” Hill-Evans' amendment would make it so that upon notification of a nonrenewal or termination of a charter, a charter school may not enroll new students unless the charter school files an appeal to the Charter School Appeal Board. If that appeal is denied, the charter school must immediately stop enrolling new students. In 2013-14, the York City School District paid $9 million in charter school tuition to New Hope Academy, with nearly half a million attributable to New Hope’s enrollment growth between 2012-13 and 2013-14. The school closed in 2014. The latest to shut down is Helen Thackston Charter School after a legal battle over audit reports with the York City School District, and a decision not to appeal the court ruling ordering it to Read more


Cephas: Bill to protect workers from sexual harassment passes House (with video)

(Jun 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 11 – Bipartisan legislation that would protect employees in the commonwealth from sexual harassment in the workplace passed in the House today by a vote of 199-0, said state Rep. Morgan Cephas, prime co-sponsor of the bill. House Bill 849 would prohibit employers from requiring current or prospective employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement related to sexual harassment as a condition of employment. It would not prevent such an agreement if both parties consent to it. “Sexual harassment can take many vile forms. The one thing all these reprehensible acts have in common, however, is that they frequently involve attempts by the perpetrator to silence the victim – to exert undue influence and power over them,” said Cephas, D-Phila. “It’s often done through an insidious practice in which the employee is forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement.” Cephas said the bill would prohibit employers from forcing employees to sign agreements that prevent them from disclosing, reporting or participating in a sexual harassment investigation. “This bill would be an important step toward protecting all employees in the commonwealth from the scourge of sexual harassment, the pain and humiliation it inflicts on victims and the havoc it can wreak on their lives,” Cephas noted. “The legislation is a product of bipartisan effort, thanks to the prime sponsor of the bill, Representative Kate Klunk.” House Read more


Johnson-Harrell to host Expungement, Clemency, and Pardons Clinic

(Jun 11, 2019)

As part of her ongoing fight for criminal justice reform, state Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell is teaming up with state Sen. Vincent Hughes to hold an Expungement, Clemency, and Pardons Clinic this Friday, June 14. The event is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Bible Way Baptist Church, 1323 N. 52 nd St. Legal experts from the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, Philadelphia Defenders Association, Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and Community Legal Services will be on hand to provide free information about the criminal justice system, explain eligibility requirements, and offer limited on-site application assistance. Read more


Response to Philadelphia Police Officers' Investigation

(Jun 06, 2019)

We are hopeful that the Philadelphia Police Department will conduct a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into widespread social media posting of racist and offensive content by certain officers. In our letter to Commissioner Ross, we’ve encouraged him to publicly hold accountable those found to be responsible and to send a clear message that racism will not be tolerated in any form. Read more


McClinton, Nesbit call for passage of automatic expungement legislation

(Jun 05, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 5 – State Reps. Joanna McClinton and Tedd Nesbit were joined by advocates, legal experts and fellow colleagues for a news conference to urge the General Assembly to pass their bipartisan legislation that would automatically expunge some people’s criminal record. “There are women and men who have served their time for a minor offense, yet they are still being punished while no longer being incarcerated. Their criminal record is a blemish that is prohibiting them from obtaining employment, purchasing a home and walking into a brighter future for themselves and their families,” said McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. “It’s time that we remove the unnecessary roadblocks so these people can move forward with their lives.” House Bill 440 would provide an opportunity to expunge a person’s record if they have been unconditionally pardoned or fully acquitted of all charges. The commonwealth would receive notice of a potential expungement and would have an opportunity to object and conduct a hearing. “It’s plain and simple: individuals that are fully acquitted or pardoned of crimes should not have to be forced to carry the burdens and stigma that are associated with a criminal record,” said Nesbit, R-Mercer/Butler. “That’s what this bill seeks to do—improve our expungement laws and remove barriers to employment for the people of the commonwealth. I am excited to work with Read more


Kinsey Honors Local Marine Hero

(Jun 04, 2019)

Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, honors local hero Cpl. Earl Guydon, who was one of the founding Marines to integrate the Corps during WWII. Cpl. Guydon was awarded the congressional gold medal in 2012 and was a stalwart and humble pillar in the community his entire life. Read more


Burgos Stands Up For Democracy, Pushes For Voting Reforms

(Jun 04, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Danilo Burgos joined colleagues in Harrisburg to support voting reforms. He discussed how these proposals are critical in ensuring democracy across the commonwealth. Read more


Kenyatta bill to ensure permanence of ‘Stop and Go’ enforcement clears committee

(Jun 04, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 4 – Legislation authored by state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., to make Pennsylvania’s law that better deals with “stop and go” nuisance establishments ironclad, today was approved by the House Liquor Control Committee. Kenyatta’s bill (H.B. 1434) would move the language that cracks down on nuisance establishments, which was originally included in the state Fiscal Code (Act 44 of 2017), to the state Liquor Code. He said the Liquor Code is the correct place for this important law. “The key to holding ‘stop and go’ businesses accountable is to ensure the law is solid and enforceable,” Kenyatta said. “Since this landmark law passed in October 2017, we have seen an increase in investigations by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and, ultimately, stricter compliance. However, the language of the law was placed in a state code that deals with financial matters of state government. It’s no place for liquor enforcement, and I am glad the members of the Liquor Control Committee agree.” Under the 2017 law, if the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board finds that a licensed establishment does not meet the seating, square footage, food, or health requirements under the state Liquor Code, it can suspend the license immediately. The law also gives local governments the power to recommend that the LCB investigate establishments believed to be failing to meet code requirements. “I am Read more